It is narrowing or hardening of the arteries in the vessels that carry blood to your limbs. In the legs, this reduced blood flow can cause cramping and pain. When this process affects arteries in the heart it is called coronary heart disease.
In PAD, the arteries in the legs are affected, and can also affect arteries in the kidneys, stomach, and arms.
Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries.
Atherosclerosis is a slow build up of these fatty deposits, caused by smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar. This damages the vessel walls. When the artery walls are damaged, the body recruits white blood cells to repair the damage. The white blood cells, and the fatty deposits become plaque, which narrows and eventually blocks the vessel. As we age, the plaque hardens and narrows the vessels, making it more difficult for oxygen-rich and nutrient- rich blood to reach your limbs, and other parts of the body
Some people have no symptoms. Symptoms commonly appear as tight, achy pain in the muscles of the legs, buttocks and thighs while walking or climbing stairs. This is called claudication. When the ache or pain stops at rest, it is called intermittent claudication, a key symptom of PAD.
Weak legs, problems walking or balancing, cold, numb feet and toes, sores that won’t heal, foot pain at rest and erectile dysfunction are other symptoms. Severe PAD can cause changes in the skin of the feet and legs.
PAD is a warning that you are likely to have more serious circulation problems, including heart disease, the number one killer in the U.S.
Yes. It is important to treat the underlying atherosclerosis, as well cleaning out the plaques.
You should see a vascular surgeon at South Valley Vascular if you experience leg pain while walking that goes away at rest, you have foot or toe pain at rest, or wounds on your legs or feet that won’t heal.
Medication is targeted at treating risk factors, easing leg pain, and improving circulation.
Taking Vitamin C, Vitamin E, ginkgo biloba, garlic and carnitine may help reduce leg pain and improve circulation. Talk with your vascular specialist at South Valley Vascular.
When lifestyle changes are insufficient to control PAD, surgery may be indicated to restore blood flow and prevent the loss of the limb. But, none of these procedures will address the underlying cause- atherosclerosis.
Efforts to reduce your risk factors can help prevent or delay the onset of PAD, and its complications. Lifestyle changes include quitting smoking, eating a heart healthy diet, and losing weight, and exercise. All of these can reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life, as well as reduce your risk for heart attack, heart disease and stroke.
When you have PAD, it is important to take good care of your feet and legs.
The board-certified vascular specialists at South Valley Vascular in Visalia, Porterville and Hanford, California specialize in diseases of the arteries and veins. When you have circulation problems, you can trust us with your care. You will receive a correct diagnosis and compassionate, quality care. Call us today at (559) 625-4118 and schedule your consultation today!